Joz Norris: Blink | Edinburgh Fringe comedy review
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Joz Norris: Blink

Edinburgh Fringe comedy review

Joz Norris is no longer a silly comedian, he portentously tells us, but the greatest magician of all time, a master of the dark arts who has perfected a trick of mind-control never previously thought possible: the ability to make his whole audience blink as one.

The result of his reinvention is an ambitious attempt to marshal his absurdist sense of humour into a bigger, more theatrical and more accessible proposition than the lo-fi weirdness he’s presented at previous Fringes. Blink is wrapped in a superficial layer of knockabout slapstick that offers a gateway into his eccentric mind, though once you’re drawn in, it’s clear the show remains more complex than a mainstream offering.

The inept magician has been a comedy staple that goes back to Tommy Cooper, probably much further, but Norris offers his own twist. His bombastic alter-ego takes himself far too seriously, even as events in the room lacerate his dignity, and he holds the laughing audience in such contempt that ‘go fuck yourself’ becomes a catchphrase. But it’s where the show heads after the failed tricks that is so different.

What he has up his sleeve, metaphorically, is a machine apparently able to read audience members’ minds once he holds the microphone to their heads. Norris is not the first to use such a comedic device, but the way his expensive gadget inevitably malfunctions is definitely novel. Regular collaborator Ben Target, working behind the tech desk when not being Norris’s calming accomplice, can do nothing to stop it. And just how could they afford to buy such cutting-edge technology in the first place?

Such threads aren’t entirely resolved satisfactorily as the show spins off into other directions, with philosophical and meta elements aplenty. A relatively straightforward stand-up routine about a disappointing sausage baguette is presumed to be a metaphor for life itself; a fraud check-up from his bank is a funny, pacey skit about the character of his alter-ego; and Target being too cheap to buy the backing track licence offers the silliest scene of the show as the consequences get increasingly ludicrous.

Norris’s zany energy powers all this, and with so much going on and such an intense performance, the hour never flags, even if it doesn’t hold together quite as cohesively as is probably ought. But it wraps with a sharp and satisfying conclusion, apt for a show that’ never short of aspiration, even if it remains rough around the edges conceptually, if not in execution.

Joz Norris: Blink is on at Pleasance Dome at 8.20pm

Review date: 19 Aug 2022
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Pleasance Dome

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